Oscar 2023: Brendan Fraser, Best Actor Contender for The Whale?

Sunday night world premiere of The Whale at the Venice Film Festival suggest that Brendan Fraser’s return to Hollywood will be met with cheers–and kudos.

 

VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 04: Brendan
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Fraser’s lived-in, touching performance may see Fraser earning his first Best Actor Oscar nomination in a career spanning over three decades.

The Whale stars Fraser as a man living with severe obesity who struggles to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter, played by “Stranger Things” breakout Sadie Sink.

The supporting cast also includes Hong Chau, Samantha Morton and Ty Simpkins.

The movie is based on the play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter, who adapted his stage text into Aronofsky’s feature.

When the credits rolled on Darren Aronofsky’s drama, in which Fraser plays a 600-pound gay man confined to wheelchair, the actor was overcome with emotion.

Fraser sobbed throughout the six-minute standing ovation, which will likely put him at the forefront of this year’s various races for the best actor award.

Many spectators inside the theater also were reduced to tears during the film’s heartbreaking final scenes.

To play the lead character, Fraser wore a prosthetic suit that added anywhere from 50 to 300 pounds given the scene.

The actor spent as much as 6 hours in the makeup chair each day to fully transform into the character. In an interview ahead of the film’s Venice premiere, Fraser shared that his prosthetic suit was “cumbersome, not exactly comfortable,” adding, “The torso piece was almost like a strait jacket with sleeves that went on, airbrushed by hand, to look identical as would human skin, right down to the hand-punched hair.”

“I developed muscles I did not know I had,” Fraser told the press about wearing the prosthetic suit. “I even felt a sense of vertigo at the end of the day when all the appliances were removed; it was like stepping off the dock onto a boat in Venice. That sense of undulating. It gave me appreciation for those whose bodies are similar. You need to be an incredibly strong person, mentally and physically, to inhabit that physical being.”

In The Whale, Fraser shows slyer, subtler, more haunting facets of his usual screen persona.

The Whale marks another buzzy Venice premiere for Aronofsky, who has a rich history with the prestigious festival. While he stumbled at his first Venice with the premiere of “The Fountain,” he bounced back in 2008 when “The Wrestler” won the Golden Lion.

Black Swan was one of the big hits of the 2010 Venice Film Festival, while “mother!” was controversial at the 2017 fest.

Although Fraser had a supporting role in Soderbergh’s “No Sudden Move” last year, “The Whale” marks a comeback for the actor in his first starring role in a film since 2013’s direct-to-DVD action movie Breakout.

Next comes Scorsese’s Apple western Killers of the Flower Moon.

His turn as Garfield Lynns/Firefly in the DC tentpole Batgirl will not be seen as Warner Bros. canceled the film’s release.

A24 will release The Whale in theaters December 9.